Swapping out your front and rear driveshafts is a great job for the weekend DIYer.By Jeffrey Smith – November 20, 2015
This article applies to the Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-Present).
If your JK is starting to make a clunking noise when you shift from reverse to drive, or you have noticed a strong vibration or squeaking noise when you are driving, these are signs that your driveshaft may need to be replaced. Besides the OEM driveshafts, there are numerous aftermarket brands that you can use. Just be sure to get the correct fitment for your Jeep and give yourself plenty of time for the job. It is not too difficult to do on your own, but you will need some specialized tools to do the job. Many specialized tools can be rented or borrowed from your local auto parts store. While this job is easy enough for a novice DIYer, it can be a real bear to execute because of pieces that don’t want to come apart. You will definitely want to have some PB Blaster or WD-40 on hand and plenty of it. Bring along a bucket of patience and give yourself plenty of time, so you can save yourself a considerable amount of cash from having a professional do this job for you.
- 3/8 or 1/2 inch drive ratchet and 8mm socket, plus a large sized assortment
- Torque wrench
- Large hammer (preferably a rubber mallet)
- Jack and jack stands or lift
- PB Blaster or WD-40
Steps 2 to 8 illustrate the process for removing and installing the front driveshaft, while 9 to 12 are for the rear driveshaft replacement.
Step 1 – Jack up your Jeep
Make sure you are parking on a flat, level surface and jack up your Jeep. Starting from either end, use a hydraulic floor jack and raise it high enough to place a couple of jack stands in the proper positions. Repeat for the other end. Always makes sure you are using the approved lifting as well as jack stand points, and never work under your Jeep without using jack stands if you do not have access to a lift.
Figure 1. Always work under your Jeep with jack stands in place.
Step 2 – Remove transfer case skid plate
There are four bolts that hold the skid plate onto the frame. Remove the four bolts, and make sure to have control of the plate when you are removing the last bolt to prevent the skid plate from dropping and getting damaged.
Figure 2. Remove the four bolts mounting the skid plate in place and set the plate aside.
Step 3 – Remove forward driveshaft from flange
Remove the eight 8mm bolts that hold the driveshaft to the flange. You’ll probably only be able to remove four or five of them at first, and then move the Jeep forward or backward to turn the driveshaft in order to get easier access to the remaining bolts.
Figure 3. The eight 8mm bolts may be pretty difficult to remove without turning the driveshaft.
Step 4 – Remove driveshaft from axle flange
Once you have removed the eight bolts from the driveshaft and flange, move to the opposite end of the shaft. There are four bolts holding the shaft to the flange on this end, married up to the axle. Remove these four bolts and get ready for some hard work.
Figure 4. On this end of the driveshaft, there are only four bolts to remove from the flange.
Step 5 – Beat the driveshaft into submission
This part of the process is the most difficult and for good reason. You will need to take the biggest hammer or mallet that you can get your hands on and beat the tar out of the end of the driveshaft at the flange. The transfer case end usually comes off much easier than the axle end. You may want to prep the shafts the night before your work with PB Blaster or WD-40 and let it soak overnight.
If you look at the backside of the flange, you’ll see some smell, un-threaded holes. These holes allow for the entry of a strong punch and when inserted, beat the back end of it with your hammer. This is one method to get separation between the shaft and the flange. In the end, it is just going to take a lot of elbow grease and patience to get this thing off. Another method may be easier, but it does involve a special tool. You may be able to borrow or rent a driveshaft puller from your local auto parts store. Follow the directions with the tool or ask the counter person for help and, hopefully, your driveshaft will come out much easier. Many folks seem to prefer the brute force method of removing driveshafts.
Figure 5. If you are lucky, a few heavy blows with a big mallet will be enough to knock the shaft free from the flanges.
Step 6 – Remove the flange from either end
An air gun will greatly help in facilitating the removal of the center nut from each flange, otherwise, you will need to wrench on it pretty hard while keeping it stationary. Remove this center nut and the flange will come right off, but it may need some persuasion with your big hammer. The same process works on both the axle end and the transfer case end.